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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

June 2, 2014 - 9:20 am

The news cycle is currently focused on the swap to release Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — five Taliban commanders for the Idaho native — but many Americans still remain held abroad by nefarious regimes or terrorists.

One of those, a Marine veteran who served with distinction in Iraq, specifically said last fall that, even though his unlawful imprisonment in Iran was taking a horrible toll, he would not want his release to come from any sort of swap with Iran.

From our Yellow Ribbon Project story on Flagstaff, Ariz., native Sgt. Amir Hekmati:

Amir took his case directly to Kerry in a letter smuggled out of prison and obtained by the Guardian in September. After thanking Kerry for lobbying on his behalf, Amir stressed that the confessions on false charges were “obtained by force, threats, miserable prison conditions, and prolonged periods of solitary confinement.”

“This is part of a propaganda and hostage taking effort by Iranian intelligence to secure the release of Iranians abroad being held on security-related charges. Iranian intelligence has suggested through my court-appointed lawyer Mr. Hussein Yazdi Samadi that I be released in exchange for 2 Iranians being held abroad,” Amir wrote in the letter confirmed authentic by his family. “I had nothing to do with their arrest, committed no crime, and see no reason why the U.S. Government should entertain such a ridiculous proposition. I do not wish to set a precedent for others that may be unlawfully (obtained) for political gain in the future.”

“While my family and I have suffered greatly I will accept nothing but my unconditional release,” he continued. “The very same suffering that the 3 American hikers have recently suffered and many others by these unlawful tactics. My hope is that those individuals within the Iranian government who respect rule of law and international ethics will intervene in my case. As someone of Iranian heritage, I hope that the Iranian people will also support me and call on their government to respect my legal rights.”

Hekmati has been held by Iran for 1,007 days, initially sentenced to death on a trumped-up charge of “conspiracy to commit espionage” and now serving a 10-year sentence after a quickie closed-door trial for “collaboration” with the U.S. government. Though some on Capitol Hill have championed his case, the family needs the traction of public outrage to put adequate pressure on the powers that be.

The Yellow Ribbon Project is a portal to bring together the stories of those held or missing abroad. Readers can learn background and updates of ongoing cases, find out how to get involved, and even submit tips while hearing from the families, lawmakers, government entities and more.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
Maybe we could trade HIM for Bergdahl? I know which of the two I respect more....
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here in the Mirror Universe, however, honor is despised while perfidy is rewarded.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now this is a soldier. Er, marine.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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Bridget, you keep doing G-d's work by writing these and all the articles you continue to write. Your work does not go unnoticed! Thank you.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm a little unclear on this. If the gets released, will he just sit in his cell and say "no, I'm not going"?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
You should probably read the article, knucklehead, or did you and you have poor reading comprehension?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here in the Mirror Universe, however, honor is despised while perfidy is rewarded.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now this is a soldier. Er, marine.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe we could trade HIM for Bergdahl? I know which of the two I respect more....
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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